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Choosing the Right Journal - Evaluating Your Research

Welcome to our new blog series on choosing the right journal. Every week we will discuss a different aspect of selecting the best journal for your manuscript.


It is currently estimated that there are over 40,000 journals across publishers and disciplines to choose from. The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) lists almost 10,000 Open Access journals alone. For those of you interested in journals indexed by Science Citation Index Expanded, you have over 8600 journals to choose from. Although there are several free online tools that you can use to help narrow down which journals may be suitable for your current manuscript, you still need to carefully evaluate each journal to choose the most suitable journal. Remember, you can only submit to one journal at a time—so make sure it is the best one!


Evaluating Your Research

First, you need to honestly evaluate the significance of your data. How do you evaluate significance? There are three key aspects you should consider: novelty, relevance, and appeal.


Novelty refers to how new your findings are compared with those previously published in your field.


Incremental advance:

  • Findings that only offer a small step forward in what is already known
  • Choose journals with low to medium impact factors
  • Example: you are studying a disease that is already known to be genetically based, and you identify a new mutation that is involved in the pathogenesis of the disease


Conceptual advance:

  • Findings that change the way researchers in your field think about a specific topic
  • Choose journals with medium to high impact factors
  • Example: you are studying a disease that is not known to be genetically based, and you identify a mutation that is involved in the pathogenesis of this disease
  • Relevance refers to the applicability of your findings.


Geographical relevance:

  • Refers to the regional applicability of your findings
  • For findings with only a regional focus, choose a regional journal
  • For findings with worldwide implications, choose an international journal
  • Example: if you are investigating a specific plant species only found in Asia, then a regional Asian journal may be more appropriate than an international journal. However, if your findings with this plant species has implications in the study of different plants found in other countries, then an international journal may be suitable—but you will need to emphasize this point in your cover letter and manuscript.


Disciplinary relevance:

  • Refers to the applicability of your findings to different disciplines
  • For findings highly specific for your field, choose a specialized journal
  • For findings with implications for researchers in other fields, choose a more general or interdisciplinary journal
  • Example: you have a developed a new material that is specifically useful for experiments conducted in optical physics, then a specialized optical physics journal would be appropriate. However, if this material also has implications in medical imaging, then a journal with a broader focus or an interdisciplinary journal would be more suitable.


Appeal refers to the topical interest of your study.

  • Journal editors like manuscripts about current “hot topics” such as global warming, nanomaterials, or stem cells
  • Also interested in findings that have important real-world applications
  • If your study has important real-world implications for your field or the general public, you will have a better chance in getting your manuscript accepted in a journal with a higher impact factor